The Coming of the Witch – Part Six

Bad Tidings Two

“No longer men…?”

It was Trevithick who had spoken. Lukas turned to him.

“I was part of a scouting party sent by General Mead along the Western Turnpike, to see what had become of Lord Fyra’s men. North of the Meer we came across strange signs – burnt patches on the ground, of an irregular shape – not like those made by a fire – and other dark fetishes, mommets and such like.

One night soon after we made camp, we heard a soft singing on the wind; but the voices were not human, and my men were afraid.

I set a watch, but in the early hours our camp was attacked, by three men – and they wore long cloaks, and their faces were pale – paler than the face of anyone living – and they wore the Third Eye.”

Lukas could see he had their attention now. Strange’s earlier indignation had melted like the spring frost.

“This is what the messenger was saying,” he said to Lukas. “Rumours about a witch. But I hardly believed it…” He trailed off. Lukas studied him. No soldier likes an enemy he does not know how to kill.

“They killed three of my men, including those on watch, but one was able to raise the alarm in time, and somehow we beat them off. We made a hasty retreat then, back across the river where we knew they could not follow. You could put it down to a trick of the light – that they were just bandits we had mistaken for something else in the dark night watches. But I know what I saw. And I know also that one of the men Lord Fyra sent to Glenaster had a distinctive scar across his brow, in a V-shape – an old duelling wound. His name was Drew Lendon – I had served with him myself. And one of these shadowmen who attacked us – I saw the exact same scar upon his brow, and a look of despair in his eyes…”

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